George Washington's Most Important Lesson

Written by Adam English
Posted July 3, 2018 at 4:20PM

On this day in 1775, newly appointed General George Washington formally took command of "a mixed multitude of people under very little discipline, order or government."

The Revolutionary War had broken out with the Battles of Lexington and Concord just under three months earlier on April 19. On June 15, Washington was appointed commander-in-chief by the Continental Congress.

Though he was recognized by virtually everyone involved as the most qualified candidate, Washington himself knew something else: The best the colonies had to offer was still lacking.

Ragtag Group of Volunteers

Washington was, by all accounts, disgusted with the state of the army he commanded. At the same time, in himself he saw an officer with very little experience.

He fought a frontier war during the French and Indian War, and the largest unit he commanded was a brigade during the capture of Fort Duquesne.

While he commanded maybe a thousand men at most during the War, there was little to suggest Washington’s potential.

In 1754, he was forced to surrender at Fort Necessity, and his movement into the Ohio Country had international consequences.

He had to resign his commission to avoid a demotion to the rank of captain. Only by being appointed commander of the Virginia Regiment by the Virginia Lt. Governor did he find a way back.

And his only battle during the expedition to capture Fort Duquesne was a friendly fire incident as reinforcements approached.

Yet here he was, poised to take command of over 20,000 militiamen and take on the world’s most formidable army.

And so, on July 3, 1775 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Washington took his first steps into the history books with very little working for him.

Saviors From The North

Washington met the army in Cambridge to join the siege of Boston. British forces had been safely tucked in the city since the first days of the war.

Yet nothing could be done to remove them. The militias didn’t have the firepower. Thankfully, America’s most infamous traitor had just what he needed.

On May 10, 1775, less than a month from the first shots fired, Benedict Arnold and 50 men took both Fort Ticonderoga and Fort Crown Point the day after.

Arnold seized exactly what Washington needed — cannons and other high-quality British armaments. Without them, he could never go on the offensive.

Colonel Henry Knox, a bookstore owner by trade, was sent to bring the weapons to Boston, but didn't receive his orders until November. Over three months, Knox moved 60 tons of weapons by boat, horse, sledges, and sometimes outright manpower. 

At best, he had roads so poor in quality that they were functionally just trails. At worst, he was crossing two semi-frozen rivers, forests, foothills, and swamps through the brutal New England winter weather.

It came to be known as the “Noble Train of Artillery” and later as the Henry Knox Trail. It was a feat of logistics and tenacity that redefined the entire war.

A Lesson Learned

By March, the artillery was in place in Dorchester Heights, overlooking Boston and its harbor. British forces saw that their position was now indefensible, and withdrew up the coast to Halifax on March 17, 1776.

Without the advantage the artillery and new armaments gave to Washington, the war would have been far different.

Boston would have never been taken. Not only would the British have a perfect harbor to disembark troops and supply their navy, but the Continental Army would have been deprived of a desperately-needed morale boost.

The British departure ended major military activities in the New England colonies, giving Washington time to make desperate changes to the Continental Army and prepare for the New York and New Jersey campaign.

It was an important lesson learned, and one that strikes to the heart of U.S. military strategy to this day.

Logistics and firepower superiority win wars while heroes get the glory. Whenever we have strayed from this, our country has lost.

It is what repelled General Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg 88 years to the day after Washington took command. It is what won two World Wars.

It straight up won the Cold War without any shots fired between the main combatants.

And it is the deterrent that ensured over half a century of relative global peace and prosperity that historians are calling the Pax Americana.

A New Threat

Unfortunately, this peace is far from guaranteed. The world is on the brink of a whole new paradigm.

China is ascending and belligerent nations are growing far too comfortable antagonizing the U.S. while the rest of the world demands we restrain ourselves.

Foreign governments are rapidly closing the technology gaps with stealth aircraft, drones, autonomous weapons platforms, and nuclear weapons.

Asymmetrical warfare is the new norm. Digital sabotage is the new skirmish.

Virtual “fifth columns” are being created through disinformation and propaganda campaigns that appear to be homegrown.

And this is all a part of total war. Uniforms don’t matter. Citizens and soldiers, businesses and governments are targeted without reservation.

The U.S. has stumbled during this transition. But keeping the advantage has been built into our DNA since the early days of our fight for independence.

As long as we can afford it, we will never abandon it. A wave of investment has already begun across the entire spectrum of potential types of warfare.

We can rest easy knowing that our rights to life, liberty, property, and happiness will be protected for many years to come.

Rest easy and have a great Fourth of July tomorrow. America has a lot of tough challenges ahead, but we’ve still got the will to fight it out, and we will have the weapons to win it.

Tomorrow, Jason Simpkins is launching our newest service, The Wealth Warrior, to take advantage of this wave of change and new investment. Simply click here to make sure you get access to his research first.

Take care,

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Adam English

follow basic @AdamEnglishOC on Twitter

Adam's editorial talents and analysis drew the attention of senior editors at Outsider Club, which he joined in mid-2012. While he has acquired years of hands-on experience in the editorial room by working side by side with ex-brokers, options floor traders, and financial advisors, he is acutely aware of the challenges faced by retail investors after starting at the ground floor in the financial publishing field. For more on Adam, check out his editor's page

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